A witness to history

When Tony Breck enrolled at SDSU, he thought he would make a career of reporting the news. Instead, he became a part of the news, observing one of the most historic incidents in the 21st century.

Breck ’98 earned a degree in broadcast journalism and started his career as a general assignment reporter with the Sioux Falls television station KDLT. That was followed by another three years at a Rochester, Minnesota, station.

It was while he was in Rochester that terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers while another crashed in Pennsylvania.

Breck, who had been serving in the Army reserves since 1994, decided he wanted to serve full time and joined the Air Force. “I wanted to be the guy that dropped bombs to take out the bad guys,” Breck says. On May 2, he was on the Navy ship that put to rest America’s foremost enemy—Osama Bin Laden.

Capt. Breck was serving on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which received and disposed of Bin Laden’s body at sea.

He says in an August interview that he is not allowed to discuss his role or details about the operation. Breck did comment, “I was on the aircraft where they took him. It was a little bit of luck and timing to be a part of something like that. I feel extremely honored to be a part of history like that.”

On special assignment

While it was Bin Laden’s terrorism that prompted Breck to join the Air Force, his death doesn’t end his interest in continuing with the Air Force.

“I’m going to stay with the Air Force and make a career with the Air Force. Every time I get to fly and defend the people of Afghanistan, I believe I’m doing my part. That war definitely isn’t over. There’s still a lot more to do,” Breck says.

Breck’s position is a weapons systems officer on the F-15E, the copilot in charge of dropping bombs on enemy targets.

But for the past three years he was on a special assignment, and that’s why he was aboard the Carl Vinson when it met history May 2. The Air Force captain was an electronic warfare officer on a EA-6B Prowler, an aircraft that fights the enemy with electrical interference.

The duties of an electronic warfare officer is to “take out the eyes and ears of the enemy,” Breck says.

Anticipates fourth trip to Afghanistan

In 2009, he was part of the Navy’s ground-based Prowler squadron and in 2010 he was transferred to the carrier Carl Vinson. “Our job on the carrier is to protect the carrier, to disrupt the enemy’s radar and communications,” he explains.

Every carrier has a Prowler squadron, which includes four jets, six pilots, and eighteen who do the same work as Breck.

He adds that the Prowler squadron is the smallest among the seven squadrons on a carrier, but when maintenance and support personnel are included, the Prowler squadron totals 200 people. The ship’s company totals 3,200 people with an air wing of 2,480 people. Breck also was the only Air Force service member on the carrier.

Breck was back on campus August 2 with his wife, Emily (Benson) ’98, and their three children.

The family is relocating from Widby Island, Washington, to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where Breck will continue his duties as a weapons systems officer. He expects to deploy for a fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan in about a year.

The patriotism that lead him to initially commit to full-time service will motivate him to serve his country for many years to come, Breck says.

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